Tag Archives: Supply Chain

Minister accused of killing supply chain abuse findings

Justice Minister Michael Keenan is yet to respond to a report on slavery from a working group he set up. Image: Fairfax
Justice Minister Michael Keenan is yet to respond to a report on slavery from a working group he set up. Image: Fairfax

Justice Minister Michael Keenan has been accused of “death by committee” after he failed to respond to a report of a working group he set up recommending laws to stop exploitation in company supply chains.

The group has now released its own report fearing its  recommendations will be ignored.

Exploitation scandals have hit major Australian brands over the past year. In February, Rip Curl was forced to apologise after its clothing labelled “made in China” was found to be made in North Korean factories. The company blamed a subcontractor.

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Australian government slow to respond to supply chain labour exploitation

Rescue workers and volunteers search by hand for victims amongst the debris of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: Jeff Holt
Rescue workers and volunteers search by hand for victims amongst the debris of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: Jeff Holt

Sunday marks three years since the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh. This disaster led to the tragic loss of 1130 lives, left 2500 injured, and sparked a global debate about workers’ rights and ethical labour standards in low-wage countries. In Australia, civil society organisations such as Baptist World Aid and Oxfam lead the charge to expose labour abuses and improve working conditions in global supply chains. But thus far the government has been largely absent form this debate and has been slow to act.

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Ethical Dilemmas in Modern Supply Chains

Modern supply chains are long, complex and global, making it harder for businesses to know who they’re really dealing with, and for consumers to feel confident they’re buying ethically. The negative consequences of that complexity can be as devastating as the deadly Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, which galvanised public opinion about the conditions under which our clothing is produced. Revelations about Australia’s food industry in a recent ABC Four Corners report show there are issues to be addressed at home too. So, the conversation has turned to the need to build responsible supply networks and the challenges in doing that. That’s the focus of the Sustainable Supply Network Initiative at UTS Business School and  this #think public lecture.

supply chain lecture UTS

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Apple Profits From Decade-Long Supply Chain Labour Exploitation

Apple Cash Trend 2015
Apple Cash, Cash Equivalents and Marketable Securities
2006 to March 2015 (US$ billions) – Source: Apple Annual and Quarterly Reports

Apple Inc. is the richest and most iconic corporation in the world. In 2010 Apple became the most valuable brand, with an 84% jump in brand value to $153.3 billion. By March 2015 Apple’s revenue was up to $212.2 billion, while in February 2015 Apple attained a market capitalisation of $770 billion, nearly double that of ExxonMobil, Google and Microsoft. Apple’s large profit margins have contributed to a cash hoard of $193.5 billion, which means that the company has more cash on hand compared to cash balances of most industries in the United States combined. In a stark illustration of how extreme inequality disfigures operations in global value chains, Apple’s abundant wealth ultimately rests on the suffering of young workers in electronic sweatshops where human rights, labour standards, environmental safety, and business integrity are routinely ignored.

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Supply chain migrant worker exploitation

Fresh Food Supply Chain Worker Exploitation
Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Supply chains that deliver everyday products to our fridges and tables can link unsuspecting consumers to labour and human rights abuses. Supply chain transparency is a better answer to the issue of worker abuse than “cracking down” on visas, which can make workers more vulnerable to exploitation.

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Supply Chains of Australian Fashion Retailers at Risk of Exploitation

supply chain protest
Protests against garment factory owners and their threats and intimidation of workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photograph: Sk Hasan Ali/Demotix/Corbis 

Australian fashion companies lack transparency around their supply chain or do not have full knowledge of where their raw materials are being sourced from, leaving workers including children at risk of exploitation, an audit has found.

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Australian Property Sector Failing On Sustainability

Some of Australia’s property companies are gaining top global accolades for their sustainability performance but according to a damning new report the commercial property sector as a whole is failing to meet even basic sustainability benchmarks.

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